by Claudia Sherman for the Omaha Jewish Reunion
You won’t want to miss out on all the fun and festivities! Registration is happening now. Go to www.omahajewishreunion.com to complete an online registration, call Mary Bernstein at 402.391.0708 or pick up a registration form on the Federation campus. It’s that easy!
Once a meatpacking powerhouse and home base to nationally recognized microbreweries, Omaha has grown up and developed into a progressive, culturally rich city that won recognition in 2014 as one of the most affordable cities in America (Council for Community & Economic Research), best cities to start a business (Nerdwallet.com), 10 Best Cities to Raise a family in America (Movoto Blog), and among the best cities for job seekers (NerdWallet.com).
Thirty years ago, Janey Dann volunteered as a tour guide at Henry Doorly Zoo, now an internationally acclaimed, award winning zoo. Fifteen years ago, Dann started giving tours at the Durham Museum, formerly Omaha’s Union Station. She has been describing “how our city emerged, how it became a city,” on the Durham’s 200 Years of American History Tour where she talks about “the entrepreneurs who settled our city, the explosion of immigrants in the 1880s,” the mansions they built and the buildings that housed their businesses.
Dann will take reunion participants on her Mansions and Millionaires bus tour that includes Pioneer Park, downtown, Joslyn Castle, Joslyn Art Museum, Midtown Crossing, the Brandeis and Mercer mansions and the Blackstone Hotel. Along the way she’ll share her knowledge of the Mercer, Byron Reed, Brandeis, Storz, and Turner families. “I’ll focus on the amazing and fun back stories of these millionaires, mansions, and their lifestyles,” she said.
Jerry Freeman, who grew up in Dundee and still lives in the neighborhood, will guide a bus tour through the Dundee area, Memorial Park, Aksarben Village (formerly Ak-Sar-Ben race track) and the Benson and Bagel neighborhoods. Freeman hopes to stop at an ice cream shop at 50th and Underwood for a little reminiscing.
Now living in the West Omaha area, which could easily be called the “New Bagel”, Barb Levitan will lead a tour of Burke High School, Village Pointe (168th and West Dodge Road), Shops of Legacy (175th and Center Streets), and several new neighborhoods west of Boys Town.
All three tours begin at 1:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the entrance to the JCC.
Gary Katz, library supervisor for Metropolitan Community College and formerly with the Kripke Jewish Federation Library, moderates a panel discussion featuring Omaha’s Jewish authors. Panelist Oliver Pollak is a non-fiction writer, attorney, and professor of history at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He is a board member of the Nebraska Center for the Book and one of the founders of the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society.
“Omaha has been fertile ground for Jewish authors writing fiction and non-fiction,” explained Pollak. Soon after arriving in Omaha in the mid-1970s, he began to investigate the Jewish presence in Nebraska. “I am in my fourth decade of plowing this ground. The existence of ever-expanding on-line data banks means an almost unending number of stories that can be teased out to enrich the understanding of our heritage.”
Among other authors slated to participate in Read All About It at 3 p.m. on Friday are Nancy Rips, Ozzie Nogg, Tony Endelman, Steve Fischer, J. Ruth Gendler, Eric Konigsberg, Goldie Silverman, and Harold Mann.
Wrapping up the tours and panel discussions on the first day, Alan Potash, regional director of the Plains States Region of the Anti-Defamation League, will be at 1207 Cass Street at 3:30 p.m. to explain how the ADL-sponsored TypecastRecast, an outdoor art installation challenges perceptions, breaks down stereotypes, and examines typecasts and personal biases through art. The six pieces of art address the mission of the ADL to combat hate and bigotry and to secure justice and fair treatment for all people.
The Omaha Jewish Reunion committee members have spent hundreds of hours planning the programs, itineraries and conversations for the weekend. Enjoy the entire weekend with family, neighbors, friends and all those out-of towners arriving for the weekend.
To stay up-to-date, check the Reunion website frequently at www.omahajewishreunion.com. Please call Mary Bernstein, Events Inc., at 402.391.0708 with any questions.